Returns are always so dramatic. Perhaps it’s because they seem spontaneous. If you’re anything like me, you feel torn in between where you are now, where you were yesterday and where you dream of going tomorrow. This makes returns all the more…fun. I bought a one way ticket to Brazil in May. I found a ticket to Salvador, Bahia, Brazil for 268 dollars after receiving news that the media production gig I was freelancing with would not turn into a “real job”. I was teary eyed and angry as I searched Student Universe for the flight that would take me back to where I was a few months ago. It would take me back to being a somewhat consistent blogger in a constant battle with myself and whatever it means to be an entrepreneur, thousands of miles from where I was. I bought a ticket to a land that wasn’t so foreign to me anymore, out of anger. Out of longing. Out of hopelessness. It was eerily similar to when I bought my ticket home from Brazil, the first time. I had just gotten fired from my job and was sad, lonely, and scared. So I went home to Baltimore because I thought I was missing something. Something other than family and friends. There was a lifestyle that I thought would suit me better and I attempted it. I came home and had a few internships and worked odd job and raised my credit score and did awesome things and took advantage of awesome opportunities. And when a major one fell through I did what felt right to me. I left. Maybe that makes me a quitter, maybe that makes me a runner, maybe that makes me lucky. Either way, I’m back in Brazil. Pursing the dream, again. Being a tad reckless, again. Writing and creating work in the hopes that you’ll be inspired, again. Asking you to support me, again. Betting on myself, again. Doing it all, again. Join me.
*Every Thursday, I will post a blog post from my tumblr about the beginning of my year in Brazil*
Originally published here September 2014.
Keloids are scars that don’t know they’ve healed, therefore they keep growing and growing. Producing skin until the original wound is covered in a thick protruding smooth to the touch layer of skin. Keloids are usually found in people with a lot of melanin in their skin, it’s genetic. How your mom healed is how you heal. How your family copes is usually related to how you cope. I have come to Bahia to cope/heal. Hopefully end the healing process mentally and emotionally so that my body can catch up and stop producing keloids.
My scars are along the top of my chest and some reach my navel. They started out as shaving bumps or pimples, generally gross but manageable bodily functions. They morphed into sources of shame and deep physical discomfort. The ones on my chest have actually grown more because I’ve had them “treated”. Halter tops are my go to top not only because they show of my shoulders but because I’m tired of watching people’s eyes dart between my eyes and my scars. I’m starting to think I will never be able to get rid of them. My last resort is to make peace with my body, the way it is, now. This is why I came to Bahia.
About 4 months ago I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Media and Communication Studies from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.Throughout those years I…
considered suicide seriously but choose anti depressants/fell in love and dealt with it being unreciprocated/began therapy/experienced the death of the person I gave my virginity to/continued acupuncture/cut off my dreadlocs/studied abroad/had a pregnancy scare/lost valuable friendships to acts I considered unforgivable
Luckily, I spent most of my time in college utilizing the free mental health services as well as continuing the acupuncture that I began in high school. College was the beginning of my commitment to healing. It was in college that I realized how I…
use “work” as a drug/am afraid of being abandoned so I never commit/do not have a strong spiritual foundation/view my art as a tool for attention and love/used my poetry as a means of distancing myself from romantic options/don’t trust
It wasn’t until my last semester in college after I had studied abroad in Ecuador that I even realized the aforementioned about myself. I was seeing my acupuncturist weekly and we were doing really good work and I realized my own mind was the source of a lot of my pain. Sure things had happened to me, people lied and left but I made the choice everyday to ruminate and rehash those emotions. I was addicted to the drama of it all and it cost me time and energy. I was over it. I am over it. I’m ready to let go.
Brazil is a country I’ve been obsessed with since I saw the film “City of God” in middle school. My love grew as I learned how it’s home to the largest population of African descended people in the Americas but you could never tell that from mainstream media. The “Black Power” movement here, just started in 1980. With a new rising middle class, primarily of black people and a booming film industry Brazil made sense as a my post college move.
Salvador, Bahia appealed to my budding spirituality. I’m looking for something a little less colonized to believe in. (No shade to Jesus) and Bahia is home to various practices like Orisha and Candomble. I know of many black folk who came to Bahia to get a healing. Maybe someone here can tell me what I need to do to accept myself scars and all.
photo credit: Asia Jones
Capão is a very special place where time doesn’t exist and the internet is so slow it might as well not exist. It is the perfect place to go and decompress, grow your hair out, not shave,
not wash, be one with nature. I found myself almost falling over at times because I was star gazing and it’s possible to see other galaxies in Capão. The town is small and hard to get to. You have to take a bus from Salvador to Palmeires then a van or car to Capão. It’s all very dusty and cowboy-ish.
The town of Capão consists of normal black/indigenous Brazilians with clean houses and ipods, hippies and tourists passing through for the vibes,
weed, energy, mountain trails and general lax atmosphere. Within the first day of Capão I was naked in two different rivers. I had an insightful conversation with a black Colombian woman. She was the only black hippies I encountered in my time there. Her son was blond and white, she was brown. She told me how his dad was Argentinean and how they travel a lot. They lead a nomadic life. She told me she thought I was Brasilian or maybe even Colombian. She was surprised that I was from the states, (which will be the topic of a much longer post in the future). She kept trying to get her son to come to me, she would say, “ella e sua Tia, mira mira a ella.” He cried. I guess he didn’t see family in me.
Later in the day I found myself sitting in the town square at the super market reflecting on how a place like Capão could even exist. The locals seemed like they weren’t interested in the lifestyle that many came from all over to get a piece of. Many of the hippies were musicians, Cagıl the friend I was staying with is a bad ass singer and flute player. She took me to a sauna and drum circle and I was coaxed into singing praises to Jah all night. It was as strange as it was exhilarating. I was in the woods with a bunch of different types of white people, my black American distrust kicked in, but then I looked up at the stars and remembered that I was safe. These were good white people. Seriously. But I also remembered how the woods or nature can be seen as refuge. When people are looking for freedom they run to the woods. In the game of “Tag” base is usually a tree. I don’t think I’ve ever been safer than I was that night in the woods. Although I may have came of as stand offish to the people I met because I was extremely high and I’m usually quiet in new environments, eventually I warmed up. I plan on going back to there for a few weeks before I leave Brazil in August. There are things I need to discover.
I think I’ve found a place I can continue to come back to. Capão, a small town over run with hippies located in Palmeiras, Bahia is my new favorite place in the world. It’s a part of the huge mountainous region they call Chapada Diamintina. After getting fired from my job on a random Wednesday afternoon, I decided to take the money that I was paid and go to Capão. I had heard that it was a special place, and it turned out to be true. Being blessed with awesome friends, I was able to stay with one of the most interesting people I’ve encountered in a long time. Her name is Cagıl Cokan, she’s a gypsy and a very talented musician.
After about 6 hours of travel by bus (one of my favorite ways to explore) I finally got to her house. We went to a belly dance class, which was my first but won’t be my last. The 4 days and 3 nights spent in Capão were mystical and frightening and I’m still thinking about it. It was a high that I’m not ready to let go off. While there I hiked the cachoeira da fumaça a trail that leads to a waterfall so high that the water doesn’t touch the bottom before it evaporates.
It was dry when I went, so my hike was relatively fast and easy (as easy as a two hour hike can be). The hike was really awesome. It was cool to experience how moving my feet and breathing could change my surroundings.
I spent the whole day there in the mountains. I would have stayed longer but I had to get down before it got dark, as I had no flashlight and ran out of water. The journey back down was when I realized how far I traveled and how dangerous the trail could have been if the waterfall had been wet. I would later see this as a metaphor for my time in Salvador. I felt blessed. And surprisingly not tired.
In those mountains I didn’t have any great revelations or visions. But I was very impressed with the fact that I was able to complete the hike and actually enjoy it. It was so simple. Just walking up a hill, climbing some rocks, siting by water.
I walk a trail in my city, it’s nothing like the cachoeira da fumaça but it’s a part of my self care ritual. I need to go outside in nature sometimes, because my brain is over active. And after losing my job here in Salvador, (something I’ll write about more in another post) I had been feeling fearful and confused and alone. That hike reminded me that there was nothing for me to fear.